Police struggle to control gunfights in Upper Egypt

Security forces in the Upper Egyptian governorates of Qena and Luxor have been attempting to restore order after days of lawlessness involving gunfights and kidnappings between rival families.

Two people were wounded in a gunfight between two families in the city of Armant, south of Luxor. Police responded by arresting three men suspected of using automatic rifles in the fight.

Meanwhile, security forces are investigating the disappearance of three people from Samata village in Qena Governorate. People of the village accused members of the Ashraf clan of kidnapping their relatives. Clan members have denied the accusations.

For the last two weeks, residents of Samata blocked on of the two main roads linking Qena with Luxor and Aswan. They also fired live ammunition at cars, badly injuring a Canadian tourist. On Saturday, the tourist died after a failed operation.

Police in Luxor have come in for heavy criticism recently over their failure to re-arrest Yasser Hambouly, a “dangerous gang leader” who managed to escape from prison in January.

Feuds and gun proliferation have long turned relatively minor disagreements into bloody exchanges among different factions, often neighbors, in Upper Egypt. Security forces tend to enlist local intermediaries or armed groups to resolve these feuds, which are often beyond the control of the authorities.

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